Dear friends,

A story was told me on anthropologist who participated, after much request by him to the natives, on the burial rituals of one of the group. It is part of that groups' beliefs that the ancients play drums if they accept the soul of the departed. Of course the anthropologist is skeptic to this belief, but remain open minded to their culture and religion. However, during the ritual, the scientist claims he heard those drums in the forest!
Now, as a scientist, he knows he must have imagined it, that it was just a rick of the mind. But as a person (yes, even researchers assume different roles...) he was bloody scared! He just heard the dead communicating their decision on the soul of the departed!

What to do in this occasion? Would you stay by your science, discrediting the natives, those you have to work with and with whom you've establish rapport for so long, whom you care for, thus standing in good terms with your fellow scientists? Or would you stay by the natives' beliefs, facing ridicule of your academic colleagues, but supporting those you befriended on the field?

In simpler terms, after long months on the field, and knowing the shifting paradigms of classical anthropology, where the researched start reading and researching by themselves, are allegiances formed so strong with the 'natives' that scientific objectification (as opposed to subjective) is left behind?

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Replies to This Discussion

I agree with Ms. van den Hout's statement. The role of an anthropologist, or any scientist, is to develop conclusions based on every part of the experience. Some times, the best way to do this is to participate fully, to lose yourself in the experience, and then come back and understand what you have just experienced.

As to your question, it is not the job of an anthropologist to discredit and deny something that fits outside of the realm of experience they live in. After all, to do such a thing severely limits the study, and in my personal opinion, can invalidate it. You have two options listed, "be a team player," or "be kicked out of the club house."

...But is the club house where an anthropologist really should be?



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